- The Washington Times - Monday, August 25, 2008

Miss Bell, a state environmental-education specialist, will board the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research ship as part of the agency’s Teacher at Sea program. She will spend two weeks working alongside other scientists.

“Personally and professionally as a scientist, it’s awesome for me,” Miss Bell said before leaving. “I love the ocean education stuff.”

More than 250 educators from across the country apply each year to the program, and 20 to 30 are selected, said Elizabeth McMahon, deputy program manager at NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

Miss Bell’s mission will be to help scientists collect samples and take measurements of the ecosystem of the northeastern continental shelf.

“It’s monitoring the long-term trends in the ecosystem,” said Jerry Prezioso, the agency’s chief scientist for the cruise.

“We look at the zooplankton and take measurements of hydrography, salinity and temperature.”

Between sampling, Miss Bell wants to interview the other crew members - hydrologists, zoologists, engineers and even the cook - about their jobs so she can enlighten students back home about career options in the open ocean.

She also wants to tie some of her ocean research to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the effects of area land use on the freshwater rivers. Miss Bell even hopes to find time to write and paint watercolors.

But above all, Miss Bell, who works with environmental education coordinators in each of the state’s county school systems, will take the experience back home to form a lesson plan based on the research.

“The hope is the teachers take all this newfound information and share it with their students and get their students excited about science or excited about life at sea,” Miss McMahon said.

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